Seattle's Bold Bioneers

"[M]ooching a ride accomplishes what the city has been attempting to do for years...which is to get more than one butt in the car."

What Did Darryl Do?

I confess to having never heard of Darryl Smith ["Bright Man's Burden," June 7]. On reading Norm Rice's statement, "I still think people don't realize how much Darryl has done," I went on to read the article. After reading it, I still don't realize how much Darryl has done; the article doesn't tell us about any accomplishments that would make anyone want to vote for him. Something seems to have been left out.

Penelope Purdy

Seattle

Great Potential, but . . .

Interesting that Seattle Weekly should choose to feature a story on budding politico Darryl Smith at this point in time ["Bright Man's Burden," June 7]. As someone who spent quite a bit of time with him at events and forums and such during the 2003 election, I have some mixed feelings myself.

I find Darryl to be a wonderful, courteous, well-spoken person. On the other hand, one is to expect that from an actor-turned-salesman. I never saw the need to take him to task, as I wasn't ever his opponent.

As far as experience goes, Darryl's been on a few boards, but I'm sorry—he did not single-handedly rebuild Columbia City. And some people aren't that happy about what has happened. And I'll tell you a secret—everybody gravitates to established political players when they first seek office. Everybody "knows" Ron Sims (very warm guy), and even more people "know" Larry Gossett (his voice, so comforting) and Richard "Joe Camel" McIver (a teddy bear), but that's the way it should be. Birds of a political feather tend to bond that way, and that's great. There's a lot to learn, and a lot to do.

But here we go on the race thing—and the gender thing, frankly. I'm a little wary. I'm a multiracial woman, so maybe I don't count; but I've noticed there are other candidates of color of both genders that have run in these races, and when they lose, you never hear about them again. It's a bit of a mystery why Darryl has been chosen as some sort of misunderstood class representative, and journalist's sweetheart.

Given his recent actions on local matters, Darryl still doesn't seem to understand that his key issues of "housing, neighborhood revitalization, and small-business development" are very abstract euphemisms for what are too often conflicting concepts. I've heard of no sound political strategy from him on how he feels he can reconcile them, without the most vulnerable getting lost in the process, again.

I adore Darryl. He has great potential, and Lord knows connections and money speak pretty loudly in this city; and it may well gain him a public position sooner than later. Maybe too soon. For until he can balance the populism of politics and the mechanics of policy, he won't be the statesman anyone of any color can get behind with trust.

Christal Wood

Seattle

The Felon 'Poll Tax'

In reference to the weakening of black voting power in "Bright Man's Burden" [June 7], an additional factor which needs to be considered is the disenfranchisement of 25 percent of all voting-age black males in Washington. According to Elizabeth Hull in The Disenfranchisement of Ex-Felons, Washington has one of the most regressive laws in the U.S., which allows ex-felons to regain their voting rights only after they have completed their sentence and paid all fines and court costs. However, this has been called a modern-day poll tax, as the fines and costs, which accrue interest, tend to be exorbitant and beyond the reach of a felon leaving prison, who can typically land only a low-paying job, if any.

The ACLU has been challenging this unfair law for years, and in March 2006, the King County Superior Court struck it down. However, days later, Secretary of State Sam Reed announced that the state intends to appeal the trial court ruling. Hopefully, our state can join the ranks of 17 states as well as every other democratic nation in the world in restoring voting rights to those needing to be reintegrated into the community.

Karen Schneider

Seattle

Mooching Is Good

This is in response to Knute Berger's piece on "Seattle's Bold Bioneers" [Mossback, June 7]. I believe we should be applauding anyone who takes a step toward a more sustainable world. Instead, Berger compares mooching a ride to bumming cigarettes. Let me see if I can help him understand the difference. Mooching a cigarette is detrimental to everyone involved. The person loaning the cigarette will have to buy more. The person mooching the cigarette will one day suffer the effects of smoking. Even innocent bystanders become secondhand smokers.

On the other hand, mooching a ride accomplishes what the city has been attempting to do for years with car-pool lanes, ride-share programs, van pools, Sound Transit, and Metro Transit, which is to get more than one butt in the car.

Richard Brannan

Bainbridge Island

Benefits of Biking

Re "Seattle's Bold Bioneers" [Mossback, June 7]: I own a Ford pickup. Drive it at least once a week. But my main transportation for commuting is a bicycle. For me it's a two-hour round-trip. The car drive would be about half that. So it's an extra hour a day in commute time. So why bother?

My doctor is pleased by the drop in my cholesterol level, the improvement in my asthma condition, and the greatly decreased chance of diabetes and/or heart disease. My wife is pretty pleased with the change in my attitude since I'm getting in some relaxing time each day rather than stressing out in traffic. I'm happy with the 60 pounds that were burned up while commuting. I'm even happier with not sitting in traffic grinding my teeth about the lack of movement or the idiocy of the driver who just cut me off or some other roadway irritation. The lack of pouring money into a gas tank is a mild benefit, too.

The daily ride is daily recreation (more fun than watching TV), daily relaxation, daily stealth exercise (because it's not like a chore), and best of all, daily enjoyment of life as it unfolds.

Michael Rasmussen

Portland, OR

Carless, Living Well

Knute Berger's column ridiculing Alan Durning's family's car-free experiment was shortsighted and ridiculous [Mossback, "Seattle's Bold Bioneers," June 7]. Durning's decision to try living without a car isn't nearly as rare as Berger might think. People in urban areas all over the world live perfectly well without cars. Some one-thirdof San Francisco residents don't own a car, and I'm sure that figure is even higher in New York, Tokyo, and London.

Every week, car-sharing organizations like Flexcar sign up hundreds of new members. Most join Flexcar in order to "downsize" by a car, but still end up owning a family car. However, approximately 25 percent of our members do sell their only vehicle. Why ridicule these people? Everyone living without a car, or choosing to own one fewer vehicle than they did previously, frees up a parking space and some freeway space for everyone else to use. Berger and his neighbors breathe cleaner air because Durning's family, and others like them, choose not to drive.

My wife and I recently bought our first car. We have two young children, so we decided that we need a car for a while. How did we survive previously? Did we "mooch" other people's vehicles? No, we walked, rode our bikes, rode public transit—and occasionally checked out a Flexcar. Did we live in a house without lighting and heat and eat nothing but cold gruel? Not at all; in fact, we lived quite well—and we made two mortgage payments every other month with the money the we weren't spending on cars.

Steve Gutmann

National Account Manager, Flexcar

Portland, OR

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